COS 59-8 - An integrated web-based assessment tool for assessing pesticide exposure and risks

Tuesday, August 7, 2012: 4:00 PM
D139, Oregon Convention Center
Tao Hong, Justley Harston, Chris Holland and Tom Purucker, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Athens, GA

We have created an integrated web-based tool designed to estimate exposure doses and ecological risks under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act. This involved combining a number of disparate software models into web applications so they can be more easily parameterized, run, and documented, by the EPA regulatory program office as well as federal, industry, and academic researchers outside the agency. These models include a range of aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric deposition fate and transport models used to estimate pesticide exposures and effects for a wide range of ecological receptors. They are used to determine if a pesticide can be approved, provide labeling information to determine safe levels of pesticide application, and, in certain situations, assess impacts to endangered species. A user is able to overlay areas of expected effects with locations of listed species, to explore real impacts of localized use modifications on listed species effects determinations, to extract label information for pesticide formulation labels, and to preserve a record of use modifications in a way that existing Endangered Species Protection Program tools can make enforceable “on the label”. 


The result is a web application that integrates over a dozen fate, transport, exposure, and effects models that are critical to estimating risk from pesticides. Moving data and documents to the cloud is a continuing trend, but implementing scientific applications in the cloud is not as far along and therefore web-/cloud-based scientific modeling can be considered cutting-edge. Web applications make a lot of sense for this application because of the wide audience for these ecological models. They are heavily used by industry groups seeking approval for new chemical formulations. EPA models are also often adapted wholesale or in parts by other national governments with the goal of "harmonization"--consistent international regulation of chemicals--especially within NAFTA, South America, and Europe. Moreover, algorithms contained in these models are often adapted for academic research applications, and there are underutilized opportunities for the use of these models in undergrad/graduate classrooms that could be better leveraged by web applications than traditional formats. Therefore, a demonstration using the web application will be provided and educational opportunities to use the tools will be discussed--including how to implement a case study project where students play different roles while examining tradeoffs between pesticide regulation, ecological risk, and agricultural cost-benefit issues.